Dayton to visit storm-hit Brainerd area this Friday

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Governor Mark Dayton has said he will visit the Brainerd Lakes area to survey the significant damage caused by Sunday's storms.

The Pioneer Press reports that the Governor will examine the toll taken on the area during a visit this Friday.

It follows a joint letter sent by Republican lawmakers to the Governor on Tuesday, saying his presence would "allow us all to better assess the situation as we consider appropriate steps to provide relief." Dayton's spokesman said the decision to visit the area had been made before he received the letter.

Winds of up to 80 mph coupled with lightning strikes and heavy rain saw trees felled and properties damaged across the state, with the Brainerd area particularly badly hit.

The Brainerd Dispatch reports that Crow Wing County is carrying out an assessment to see whether the financial impact of Sunday's storms is serious enough to warrant disaster relief funding from the state or federal government.

The newspaper notes that at least $7.4 million of damage must be caused to uninsured public infrastructure to qualify for a presidential disaster declaration, which can include the cost of debris removal and employee costs, such as overtime and operational expenses.

The storms have forced the closure of several attractions in the area, with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reporting Tuesday that Pillsbury State Forest would be temporarily closed while crews remove fallen trees from trails and roads.

Elsewhere Madden's and Cragun's resorts on Gull Lake have been shut down for the time being after trees were uprooted and buildings were damaged.

There was also significant damage to Brainerd International Raceway, which saw its bleachers twisted and partially blown over by the winds. But while the race track had to cancel an event on Wednesday it has said it intends to continue with its racing program this weekend.

The weather could get bad in Brainerd Wednesday evening as well, with WCCO reporting that a lightning storm with possible hail is heading its way.

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